Summary of “Rookie Runner” program by Steve Gurney


Steve Gurney has just recently had some major ankle reconstruction surgery to rectify injuries from sprains.

Steve is effectively going back to zero running fitness. With typical Gurney positivity, he has turned this obstacle into an opportunity, instead of a negative.


He has recognised this as an opportunity to help kiwis that need a wee helping hand to get into some jogging and running.


Steve is concerned about the plight of kiwi society, the decline into obesity, dependence on technology and the less than optimal nutrition we see prevailing.


This is a step he wants to take in helping people make healthier choices.


It will take Steve 3 to 6 months to ease gradually back into running training and 10 months before Steve can consider running competitively. Steve recognises this is about the ideal length of time needed for an unfit person to build fitness enough to be able to achieve a goal like comfortably finishing a 10 km fun run or half marathon!! Exciting and achievable!!


So he wants to publish a weekly column, where step by easy step, he encourages people to join him in his quest to get back into running. (This is a bit like holding someone’s hand as they take on this challenge).


Over all summary:

Week 1. Start with an easy pace walk to the street corner or around the block for 6 days of week one Week 2. Progress to walking easy pace for 30 minutes 6 days of week 2. Week 3. Fast alternate lampposts for 2 days, walk 30 minutes easy/steady for 30 minutes for 3 days. Week 7 might be walk/jog alternate lampposts 2 days for 20 minutes total, walk 40 minutes 2 days, and 1 long walk 90 minutes in the weekend.

So each week is a very slight increase with variety. It would be described in a funky style schedule/table included in the column. I suggest you print it off and stick it on the mirror, cereal box, toilet door or TV screen for the week.


Week one. The official start! Here we go!

How did you go last week?

(Recall, it was to set goals, and get out the door for 10 minutes walk at least 3 times.)

Congratulations on getting out the door!!

I’ll admit that I ran out of time this week to fit my walking in as I had planned. So I had to get innovative. I managed to combine some work with walking! I took my cell phone with hands-free ear plug and a list of phone numbers, and walked my talk!

Other possibilities to fit training in on a busy week are: Use lunchtimes, get up a bit earlier, instead of sitting down for a meeting, suggest that you walk and talk instead. Exercise often clears your head for better thinking too. Some of my best ideas have come during training!

I also had to re-evaluate my goal. The Abel Tasman event might be a bit ambitious, so I have reset my goal to being able to jog for an hour, pain free by the end of September. I’ll look for a shorter fun-run event around that time too.

WEEK 1:

Here is my schedule for this week:

(I’d be delighted if you would join me! Cut this out and stick it on the fridge, mirror or T.V. screen.)

Mon: Walk 15 minutes at easy pace. Tues: Walk 15 minutes at easy pace, but go a different course that yesterday. Wed: Walk 10 minutes, easy pace. Thurs: Walk for 15 minutes (5 minutes easy warm up, 5 minutes a little harder, breathing increased, but can still hold a conversation (or sing your favourite song), 5 minutes warm down) Fri: Day off (but, you can walk if you really want to!) Sat: Walk 20 minutes. Easy pace. Invite a friend, or explore a track in your neighbourhood. Sun: Walk 10 minutes. Easy pace.

There are always challenges thrown in that could be excuses to not get out the door. Above I’ve suggested some inventive ways to make exercise fit your daily routine easier. Here are some other points that should strengthen your resolve:


The first 6 weeks are typically the hardest, most challenging to get fit. In those first few weeks there is often a little discomfort, the new demands on your body and your lungs. Instead of focussing on pain, focus on how marvellous your body is as it adapts to your training, making itself stronger!


It’s hard to imagine a healthy addiction, but here it is! Once you get over this initial adaptation, you will start to feel the endorphins, the natural high of exercise, and some will even feel an addiction to it!


Getting into a routine, a habit of making the time and the habit of incorporating it into your weekly schedule is essential. Even if you don’t have the time to do the entire session, doing just some of it is MUCH better than dong none.


Allow yourself to get excited about your goal. Go on! Feel your heat beat increase, the smile on your face, the buzz inside, as you imagine the enjoyable journey to your goal.


Enjoy your week!

Steve


Welcome to week 3. Training concepts.

This week we’re increasing the pace and effort of our walking on some days.


How did your training go this week? I’ve had some great feedback again,.. one woman getting so motivated that she walked several hours a week with her husband, losing 3 kg in the process, (since the start of my get fit program 2 weeks prior). Her arthritis is a little painful, but seems to be reducing as her weight reduces. How’s that for inspirational? My walking pain is improving too, and I’m feeling very motivated to manage and reduce the pain after that story! (yes, I did feel like a wimp!)


My schedule this week aims to introduce some sessions with increased intensity, inter-spaced with easy recovery days.


Sat Walk 40 minutes: Good honest pace. My breathing is heavy, but still able to talk or recite a poem.

Sun Walk 20 minutes: Easy recovery pace.

Mon Walk 30 minutes: 10 minutes easy warm-up. Next I do 15 minutes of lamp-post intervals: Walk one lamp-post (or 50 metres) fast and briskly, and every other lamp post walk easy. Finally, walk easy as a warm-down for 5 minutes.

Tues. Walk 20 minutes: Easy recovery pace.

Wed Walk 20 minutes: 10 minutes easy warm-up. 5 minutes brisk pace with slightly longer strides for a change, finished with 5 minutes easy warm-down.

Thurs Walk 30 minutes: 10 minutes easy warm-up. Next I do 15 minutes of lamp-post intervals: Walk one lamp-post (or 50 metres) fast and briskly, and every other lamp post walk easy. Finally, walk easy as a warm-down for 5 minutes.

Fri Day off.

Training principles:

To get fitter and stronger we need to give our bodies a challenge in the form of a session of physical exertion. Then we need to allow it a day or two to recover and rebuild. With good nutrition, sleep and reduced training load over this recovery stage, the body will rebuild itself slightly stronger, just in case we give it the same challenge again. This is called the “overload principle”.


There are important considerations though: The challenging physical exertion needs to be challenging but not damaging. In our case this week, it is the 15 minute lamp-post intervals on Monday and Thursday. The recovery is just as important as the hard sessions. Recovery days need to be easy pace and revitalising in the form of adequate sleep and good nutrition. Your body will rebuild strongest if you give it good materials to do so. Foods like fish, lean red meat, eggs, low fat dairy, balanced with fresh fruit and veges. C’mon team, let’s cut out that junk food, and get back to what our bodies are designed best to eat; food close to it’s source with minimal processing.


For those of you who I know will be “struggling” to keep to the schedule, let’s use some wisdom from my mentors the Feltons: It’s not a struggle, ..it’s a “challenge”.


Also remember that the first 6 to 8 weeks are the hardest. Don’t despair, stick at it and it will become easier! Try smiling as you walk!


Week 5 Try Jogging!

This week is particularly significant for 3 reasons;

  1. I’m going to start a little jogging (only for a few short minutes)

  2. I’m introducing a time trial on Wednesday. A time trial is a course or loop of a set distance that you use weekly or fortnightly to test your progress.

  3. We’ve completed one month, a significant achievement. Congratulate yourselves!

How does it feel? Many of you will be feeling that exercise is becoming easier after 4 weeks, even an addictive habit. Some will still feel a bit of pain, and some will still find it a challenge to stick to the schedule. But take heart my fellow foot folk! If you stick at it for just another 2 to 4 weeks, it should start to feel significantly more enjoyable, your body will begin to adapt and you feel that this is an enjoyable habit. Especially when you visualize the benefits, of a fitter, healthier, more toned you.


Here’s week 5's schedule:

Sat Introduce lamp-post jogging. Walk 10 minutes easy warm-up. Next do 5 minutes of lamp-post WALK intervals: Walk one lamp-post (or 50 metres) as fast as possible, and every other lamp post walk easy. Next do 5 minutes of lamp-post JOG intervals: jog one lamp-post (or 50 metres), and every other lamp post walk easy. Next do 5 minutes of lamp-post WALK intervals: Walk one lamp-post (or 50 metres) as fast as possible, and every other lamp post walk easy.

Finally, walk easy as a warm-down for 5 minutes.

Sun Walk 20 minutes: Easy recovery pace.

Mon Walk 43 minutes;

(a) 10 minutes easy warm-up, on the flat, at talking pace.

(b) 5 minutes of full-on, fast, hard walk, (hill or stairs if available).

(c) 2 minutes easy walk, to recover.

Repeat, (b) and (c) to a total of 4 times.

Finish with 5 minutes warm down as easy walking, giving a total session time of 43 minutes

Tues. Walk 20 minutes: Easy recovery pace.

Wed Time trial. Find a repeatable course that takes you about 20 to 30 minutes. eg around the local park or around part of a handy golf course. It will be about 4 or 5 km. If you are a facts and figures fanatic, you might like to measure out 5 km on your bike or car odometer. However, the actual distance is not really important, more that it is repeatable in subsequent weeks.

Do a 10 minute warm-up. Next walk as fast as you can around your time trial course, recording the time at finish. Warm-down easy pace for 5 minutes.

Write this time in your diary and we will compare it to next week’s T.T.

Thurs Walk 10 minutes easy warm-up. Next do 5 minutes of lamp-post WALK intervals: Walk one lamp-post (or 50 metres) as fast as possible, and every other lamp post walk easy. Next do 5 minutes of lamp-post JOG intervals: jog one lamp-post (or 50 metres), and every other lamp post walk easy. Next do 5 minutes of lamp-post WALK intervals: Walk one lamp-post (or 50 metres) as fast as possible, and every other lamp post walk easy.

Finally, walk easy as a warm-down for 5 minutes.

Fri Day off.

We’re smack in the middle of winter, and it is sometimes challenging to get out in the foul weather. Personally, if I have good weather proof gear, I absolutely LOVE walking and jogging in inclement weather The secret lies in the “layering” of garments that provide thermal insulation and wicking of sweat and water off the skin. Don’t skimp on the gear.


The most valuable items to take are a woolly thermal hat and woolly thermal gloves. They are small, light and very effective, especially as most of your heat is lost through your head. (If I had to choose only one item of clothing, it would be a hat!) On your body, next to your skin you need a thermal, wicking layer such as merino or polypropylene. (Cotton is useless, and dangerous in that it can lead to hypothermia once wet in the cold). Then add more thermal layers as necessary, on top of the first thermal, eg another merino or poly, or a woolly or fleece jumper. Once again, no cotton sweatshirts in the rain. The outer-most layer should be a snug, waterproof jacket with a good hood, and overpants.


If the weather is life-threateningly bad, then you can be imaginative by walking up and down stair wells in high-rise buildings, or going to the gym. A winning weather strategy is the 4 “P”s: Prior Planning Prevents Procrastination. Get some good kit, and read the weather forecast so you can plan the best time to go and know what gear to pack. The ultimate tool is always your attitude. If the weather is bad, look for the positive, after training you will appreciate that hot shower and cuppa all the more!


Week 7 - We’re on the run.

Did you count any foot steps? It’s pretty amazing the number we do eh? Walking, I totalled 134 per minute, which equates to approximately 31,000 steps for last week’s schedule of jogging/walking! Congratulations on moving that body of yours so many times last week! That’s what the body’s designed to do, so we will increase it a bit more this week. Use it or lose it!

Did you manage to get off the hard stuff ?


I did, and found a vast reduction in jarring, enabling me to do all of the scheduled jogging. Waahoo!


I jogged on grass at the local park and school sports field.


So this week I’ll increase the jogging component from 50 metres to 100 metres.

Here’s my schedule for week 7. It has some added jogging and a new fun session with accelerations.


Sat Lets ramp up the jogging a bit. This fun and interesting session will be 30 minutes long in total:

10 minutes walk to warm up, on the way to a jogging site off the asphalt or concrete.

5 minutes of “accelerations”: Start with a walk pace, increasing the pace, a faster gear every minute, until at the start of minute 3 you are jogging. Keep increasing the jog pace slowly until you are jogging at a good old clip at the finish of 5 minutes.

Do a total of 3 accelerations.

Warm down walk for 5 minutes.

Sun Walk 40 minutes: Easy recovery pace, but since it is a day off work for most, add some interesting bits such as walking a bush track, the beach, or take a friend along.

Mon Walk 43 minutes total with some optional jogging:

(a) 10 minutes easy warm-up, on the flat or easy on the hill, at talking pace.

(b) 5 minutes of full-on, fast, hard walk; or a jog , (hill or stairs if available).

(c) 2 minutes easy walk, to recover.

Repeat, (b) and (c) to a total of 4 times.

Finish with 5 minutes warm down as easy walking, giving a total session time of 43 minutes

Tues Walk 30 minutes: Easy recovery pace.

Wed Time trial. Firstly, warm up walk for 10 minutes. Walk or jog, or walk/jog combination as fast as you can around your time trial course, recording the time at finish. If you’re intermittent jogging this T.T., try jogging a little longer or faster than last week.

Warm-down easy pace for 5 minutes.

How’d you compare to last week’s T.T? Remember to record your times each week for comparison. Once again, we’re looking for improvement in the long term, not all of you will get faster straight away, but you should aim for faster times by 4 weeks at most.

Thurs (Jogging again on the GRASS, but longer jog intervals)

Walk 10 minutes easy warm-up.

Next do 5 minutes of 50 metre WALK intervals: Walking 50 metres as fast as possible, then 50 metres easy.

Next do 10 minutes of 100 metre JOG intervals, followed by 50 metres easy walk.

Next do 5 minutes of 50 metre WALK intervals: Walking 50 metres as fast as possible, then 50 metres easy.

Finally, walk easy as a warm-down for 5 minutes.

Fri Day off.


This week I want to talk about posture and technique.

Our modern lifestyle often leads to a lot of time seated, either at a computer or at a desk, even sitting whilst eating. Many, myself included, end up slumping, and especially when typing. Our training is a great opportunity to make sure we walk and jog with good posture. This will help prevent injury in training, but also strengthen those posture related muscles. It will also remind us of a better posture when at a desk etc.


Remember when walking and jogging to hold yourself up tall. One of the reasons we “shrink” as we age, is that we allow ourselves to slump, or surrender to gravity. We can prevent this by making sure we keep our torso, chest and shoulder muscles toned, fit, and holding our spine erect. I find it helpful to start at my feet. When standing still, I try to stand equally on 2 feet instead of wrenching my hips by standing more on one leg. Next I aim to hold my abdominal muscles (abs) taught, not just when stationary, but also when exercising. This stops excess curvature of my lower back and stops my pelvis tilting forward. Next I fully expand my chest, but without over arching my shoulders. Other ways to think of this are, imagine a broomstick up my spine, or to push my sternum out toward my nipples. Next I think about lengthening my neck in line with that broomstick I mentioned. Another way to think about this is to increase the distance between my ears and shoulders.


Breath deeply and fully. Lastly, relax those frowns and stress wrinkles…. Smiling is a good way to do this!


Practice this posture during your training, and at other times too.


Speaking of injury prevention, you might like to stretching your muscles that get used in training:


I’ll introduce the quadriceps (quads) stretch today. Do stretches after you are warmed up, or at the end of your session whilst you are still warm. Repetitive actions like running tend to gradually shorten muscles, so a moderate stretch is a good idea.


For the quads stretch we need to push our pelvis forward to get a good stretch in the hip flexors as well. We also need to make sure we keep our pelvis level and horizontal without dropping one hip, (try looking in a mirror as you do it). There are several ways to do this stretch, but I’ll show you the most common.


Stand where you can support yourself with one hand on a wall. Stand tall and grasp your foot with one hand. Suck your abs tight, push your pelvis forward a little to maintain a tall posture, keep your hips horizontal and even, keep your knees together. Now pull your foot toward your bum till you find a good stretch. Don’t go into pain zone, just till you feel a healthy stretch. Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds. Swap legs and then repeat.


Have fun out there. I’ve had some great feedback, with some people reporting that this fitness idea is becoming an enjoyable habit. Great!


How’d your jogging go this week?


I could only manage half the jogging planned for Saturday. The first 2 lamp-post jogs were tolerable, but any subsequent jogging was painful to the degree that I felt the jogging impact was injuring my ankle.


It’s important to listen to your body, and intelligently adjust plans to suit. The increasing pain was a signal that further running activity in this session would lead to injury. However, I didn’t want to stop my fitness plan. No problem! Just find another way to do it. I modified the session to replace the jogging with a very fast walk.


(Remember it can go both ways, if things were pain free, you felt great and you wanted to do more, then that is fine too!)


For the following 2 days, walking hurt my ankle, so I modified my plan again, replacing walking with cycling for those 2 days. This allowed me to do similar training, but also rested my ankle from any impact. Other alternatives could be swimming, aqua-jogging, kayaking, skating, rowing or the gym.


Stay off the hard stuff, take the soft option.


How many footsteps do you take on your sessions? (do a sample count next time) Let’s think about the impact and jarring that runs through your body with each footstep Walking on soft grass has very little jarring, but at the other extreme, running long distances on flat concrete can sometimes be hard on your body.


That’s what happened to me on Saturday as I jogged lamp-posts, the jarring on hard footpaths upset my delicate ankle. So from now on I’m going to jog only on soft surfaces such as grass, sand or dirt, and where possible avoid walking on pavement. If I need to get down the street, I’ll use grass verges and get to parks, beaches, golf courses, farms (with permission) etc. by the shortest route.


I find varied terrain like this infinitely more exciting than the repetitiveness of streets. It’s also a wonderful escape vehicle exhaust fumes and to get back to nature. This said however, it’s better to get out on pavement if you have to, than to not get exercise at all.


Get a grip


Winter off-road excursions are more fun with ground gripping shoes, built a bit tougher for the job.


Caption “In winter I stay upright easier with good aggressive grip”


Caption “I make sure the shoe is matched to my foot shape. If the heel pushes over even the slightest bit like these 2 pictures, then I need a different shape of shoe.”


Finally, I rate comfort as the most important factor. Comfort and fit can be can be enhanced by after-market insoles like Formthotics.


I’ve never regretted the price of quality shoes that I enjoy wearing, that prevent injuries, and that give traction to the ultimate off-road machines, ..you and I!


Week 8 Training in Treacle

...those challenging sessions. Shall I or shan’t I head out the door?


“What about those days when every step feels like a major effort?”


Several readers have asked me this lately.


I know how you feel, getting out the door and 5 to 20 minutes into your session, you feel like you’re walking/running through treacle, or gravity is playing a mean trick on you,… you’re abnormally lethargic or sore.


Personally, I have days like this too, not just during my current ankle injury phase, but throughout my 20 years of competition.


Those “major effort” days are the days where i really need to listen to my body, as this could possibly be the warning signs of something major. More positively, it could also be a fitness breakthrough,… i might be going faster than i realize!! (that’s another use for testing with time trials).


How do I tell the difference?


My strategy is firstly to do some detective work on what caused the lethargy, pain or stiffness. Then adjust the session accordingly, usually changing to an easier and alternative work-out. However, I don’t turn around and crawl back to bed or the TV! I believe that it is critically important to still do some sort of session, to maintain the habit of getting fit.

Here are some possible causes:

  • Stress from extra work-load, family issues, etc.

  • Lack of recovery between hard days.

  • Poor sleep

  • Poor nutrition

  • Some physical activity in previous days that you’re not accustomed to that has left you a bit sore.

  • A threatening cold, flu’ or bug lurking around your system, (esp. winter)

  • Low blood iron/electrolytes etc (get blood test)

  • Over-training

  • Hangover

Once I have some clues as to the likely cause, then I re-design my work-out. This is usually mid session, and requires a bit of lateral thinking.


First of all, I’d like to define the concept of “stress”.

We need to stress our bodies in training to facilitate the overload principle, (as discussed in week 3). Stress is good, but too much stress becomes dis-stress, which is unhealthy.


Other stressors like work-load increase, family issues, poor sleep and nutrition or threatening sickness are individually manageable, but when we combine two, three or all of those stressors with the stressor of hard training, then this will likely exceed our stress threshold and the total becomes dis-stress. This is when our bodies rebel with lethargy, lack-of-recovery-stiffness, susceptibility to colds and ‘flu, and possible injuries.


It is safest to cut back a bit on training. I don’t mean to stop training, but perhaps do easier sessions that are just aerobic (you can still hold a conversation). In other words, do some non-strenuous exercise. Low-level exercise is often useful relief when under stress to help with perspective.


If it is a sore throat, or other lurgy threatening, a wee stroll is likely beneficial, so long as you’re warm and toasty, and restrict to less than 30 minutes of easy walking, and work on getting other stressor levels down.


If you have the ‘flu, then I believe it’s best to dive under the covers with good nutrition and sleep before you venture out the door again. Your body’s busy fighting the lurgy and needs maximum resources with all stressor levels to minimum.


When temporarily redesigning your session, make it enjoyable. For example, I like to work on technical skills of balance and proprioception which are low intensity effort but max concentration.


When I’m training for the Speights Coast to Coast, I do a rock running session several times a week. Most sessions are fantastic, running with the sure-footed coordination of a mountain goat and the gliding speed of a Gazelle. Some days I run like a drunkard! On those days where my coordination and proprioception are abominable, I’m tempted to postpone that session 'till I’m more together. However those sessions are the MOST important ones, as this is training to improve my bottom line. If I can lift the bottom line, then the overall average performance will be better. In addition, if on race day I’m poorly coordinated (eg nerves) then my training in this zone will pay huge dividends.


So if it is simply a technical issue that is causing your frustration in a session, I encourage you to stick at it, thereby raising your lowest level.


Most of those stressors I listed above have obvious solutions. Over-training is the only challenging one to identify, and usually it is only those around you that can gently help you realize this one. Symptoms include lethargy, grumpiness and irritability. The solutions include reducing stressors in your life, and cutting back on the length of your training.


Finally let’s look at the possibility that the extra effort you feel in training is due to you going faster than you realize. Check this by comparing your time trial times over 4 weeks or so.


Here is my program for week 8.


Last week I really enjoyed the accelerations for variety. I was sore for the 3rd set so did walk accelerations instead.


This week I’m adding a new component of endurance. I’m showing my body the approximate duration I want to eventually jog at by week 15, but with out the intensity of jogging. I will walk it instead. Should be fun! If I didn’t give you enough warning this week, then do as long as you can fit in, and plan it for next week.


Sat Long, easy walk. Between 90 minutes and 4 hours. Yep! You read it right, it’s a hike, day tramp. Find an enjoyable track, take a wee backpack with 3 litres of water to drink, some food, a map, a raincoat, a hat, some gloves, and warm thermal layers, and a friend. Tell someone where you’re headed, check the weather forecast and have a back-up safety plan. Have some fun exploring!!

Sun Walk 40 to 60 minutes: Easy recovery pace, but since it is a day off work for most, add some interesting bits such as walking a bush track, the beach, or take a friend along.

Mon Walk 43 minutes total with some optional jogging;

(a) 10 minutes easy warm-up, on the flat or easy on the hill, at talking pace.

(b) 5 minutes of full-on, fast, hard walk; or a jog , (hill or stairs if available).

(c) 2 minutes easy walk, to recover.

Repeat, (b) and (c) to a total of 4 times.

Finish with 5 minutes warm down as easy walking, giving a total session time of 43 minutes

Tues Walk 30 minutes: Easy recovery pace.

Wed Time trial. Firstly, warm up walk for 10 minutes. Walk or jog, or walk/jog combination as fast as you can around your time trial course, recording the time at finish. If you’re intermittent jogging this T.T., try jogging a little longer or faster than last week.

Warm-down easy pace for 5 minutes.

How’d you compare to last week’s T.T? Remember to record your times each week for comparison. Once again, we’re looking for improvement in the long term, not all of you will get faster straight away, but you should aim for faster times by 4 weeks at most.

Thurs 35 minutes in total, with accelerations:

10 minutes walk to warm up, on the way to a jogging site off the asphalt or concrete.

5 minutes of “accelerations”: Start with a walk pace, increasing the pace, a faster gear every minute, until at the start of minute 3 you are jogging. Keep increasing the jog pace slowly until you are jogging at a good old clip at the finish of 5 minutes.

Do a total of 4 accelerations

Warm down walk for 5 minutes.

Fri Day off.


I trust that you’re getting fitter and faster already. Congratulate yourselves, and remember the words of Plato; “The beginning is the most important part of the work.”


Week 9 Munching that matches my metabolism.

I’ve had a few enquiries about whether to eat before your session, and about losing weight.

What is the reason you’re doing exercise?


Primarily, the aim for me was to help any of you who are interested, to get fit. The aim was not necessarily to lose weight. However, weight loss is a possible side benefit, and for some of you it is a goal that you have. That is fine, and admirable! Good on you.


The topic of sports nutrition is wide and huge, and many books are written on it, and many people make a career out of the study of it. If you have further enquiries than what i discuss here, i encourage you to get a book, or consult a sports nutritionist/dietitian.


I like to think from a performance perspective. My body is a machine that requires fuel to function, and perform. Like a motor, if I feed it fuel different to what it’s built to use then it will not perform, and like a motor, by-products will accumulate and further hinder performance.

Touching on weight control, I will speak in general terms here, (find more detail from books and nutritionists/dietitians).


Here is the simple but critical equation that says it all:


Energy in (food) = energy out (exercise/activity)

Average adult male = approx. 2630 calories per day

Average adult female = approx. 2030 calories per day

Simply add up the calories you eat/drink in one day, and adjust the balance.

If energy in exceeds energy out, energy is usually stored in form of fat.

But be assured, it’s harder to go the other way… If energy in is less than energy out, then the body has mechanisms to let you know it’s hungry!


Excess weight is much better lost by gradual process. Fad diets, and sudden loss of kilos over a few weeks are usually simply temporary fluid loss, or not usually sustainable. The only way to reliably lose weight is to adjust the “in = out” balance equation.


I maintain that it is best to provide my body with a steady supply of energy through the day. This is to train my metabolism into a regular pattern rather than a roller coaster of starvation and supply. If metabolism is starved at stages through the day, then it becomes efficient at storing energy as contingency. I eat small, good quality meals at regular intervals. I believe it’s very important to give my metabolism the right signals by eating something early in the day. Snacking is better than large meals, so long as the snacks are healthy. (eg make 3 low-fat salad sandwiches and eat 1 at morning, lunch and afternoon). I opt for a smallish evening meal, as there is little energy expenditure whilst sleeping, and I sleep better this way.


To eat before training or not?


True, training on an empty stomach will burn a bit more fat, but it is setting metabolism into “starvation and store” mode which is ultimately unsustainable For long-term weight control, I believe it is best to keep a small but steady supply of incoming food, (ie. better to reduce over-all energy intake through the day). Fat is not used for fuel until 20-30 minutes of activity, so activity at moderate levels for long periods is better than short bursts (eg. stop to talk disrupts the fat burning, allowing muscles to be re-supplied with glycogen instead)


Some find it hard to eat first thing, so it is perfectly fine to try drinking some fruit juice (best to dilute it a little). Alternatively, take it with you in a drink bottle, or eat a banana as you walk. Be innovative.


Nutrition straight after is important too, as our metabolisms are still in faster mode for an hour or so after a good session. Eat healthy in this time, protein is good for recovery, and remember to drink some water or fruit juice.


Here is my program for week 9.

How’d you go on the endurance session? I had a lot of fun walking a local hiking track with a friend. I’ve included it again this week. Plan for it again next weekend too.


I also had some success on my jogging, managing to jog for 5 minutes during my time trail session! So I’m going to increase the jogging component this week with in the existing schedule structure.


Sat Long, easy walk. Between 90 minutes and 4 hours. Find an enjoyable track, take a wee backpack with 3 litres of water to drink, some food, a map, a raincoat, a hat, some gloves, and warm thermal layers, and a friend. Tell someone where you’re headed, check the weather forecast and have a back-up safety plan. Have some fun exploring!!

Sun Walk 40 to 60 minutes: Easy recovery pace, it’s a day off work for most, add some interesting bits such as walking a bush track, the beach, or take a friend along.

Mon Walk 43 minutes total with jogging;

(a) 10 minutes easy warm-up, on the flat or easy on the hill, at talking pace.

(b) 5 minutes jog , (include a bit of a hill or stairs if available).

(c) 2 minutes easy walk, to recover.

Repeat, (b) and (c) to a total of 4 times.

Finish with 5 minutes warm down as easy walking, giving a total session time of 43 minutes

Tue Walk 30 minutes: Easy recovery pace.

Wed Time trial. Firstly, warm up walk for 10 minutes. Aim to jog the entire T.T if you can. It’s OK to walk bits of it to recover, but be determined to keep the walk bits short, remember your exciting goal to get fit. Record the time at finish. If you’re intermittent jogging this T.T., try jogging a little longer or faster than last week.

Warm-down easy pace for 5 minutes.

Compare to previous 8 T.T. results. Remember to record your times each week for comparison. Once again, we’re looking for improvement in the long term.

Thurs 35 minutes in total, with accelerations:

10 minutes walk to warm up, on the way to a jogging site of grass in a park or similar.

5 minutes of “accelerations”: Start with a walk pace, increasing the pace, a faster gear every minute, until at the start of minute 3 you are jogging. Keep increasing the jog pace slowly until you are jogging at a good old clip at the finish of 5 minutes.

Do a total of 4 accelerations

Warm down walk for 5 minutes.

Fri Day off.


Week 10 Getting serious about jogging.

Introduce calf stretch, (soleus, gastrocnemius)

Shorts & singlet, sweating, & soaking in sunshine! Skiting! Yes, I was in the northern hemisphere on business last week, and enjoyed training in warmth for a change.

However, as the clement, cosy sun’s rays bathed my bare skin, I was tortured with guilt at the thought of you, my fellow fitness friends freezing in the tempest that was chilling New Zealand…. Not! It was glorious!


(To be completely honest, I ended up rather jealous. I love the novelty of snow at home in Christchurch, and I missed it!)


However, it raises a very motivating notion. We may be currently challenged by the chilly climate, but we can always turn this into a positive. Personally, I can clearly visualize how good I will feel being fit again this coming summer, when once again I feel the warmth of the sun whilst out exercising. You’ll find it motivational to visualize the benefits of your toned body as you emerge out of winter into summer, having done this schedule. This can only happen if you get out the door, making exercise an enjoyable habit, no matter what the conditions.


Remember Week 5 when I talked about equipping yourself for any weather.


This week is another milestone. Congratulations on making it to 2 months! How is your jogging going? This is the final month of the schedule, we are going to aim to be jogging 6 days a week by the last week.


In my last time trial, I was able to sustain 20 minutes easy jogging. Despite the slight pain in each foot strike, I was very pleased to be jogging! At Week 10 it is time to get serious about jogging. I will be introducing a slightly different schedule where we will be jogging 4 days this week. Remember to jog where-ever possible on grass or soft surfaces. Avoid jogging on tar seal and concrete where possible.


Sat 10 minute warm-up walk.

Jog for 25 minutes, continuously, but easy pace.

10 minute warm-down walk.

Sun Long, easy walk. At least 2 hours long. It’s a hike or day tramp. Find an enjoyable track, take a wee backpack with 2 litres of water to drink, some food, a map, a raincoat, a hat, some gloves, and warm thermal layers, and a friend. Tell someone where you’re headed, check the weather forecast and have a back-up safety plan. Have some fun exploring!!

Mon (a) 10 minutes easy warm-up walk, on the flat or easy on the hill, at talking pace.

(b) 5 minutes of full-on, fast, hard walk..

(c) 10 minutes of jogging

Repeat, (b) and (c) to a total of 3 times.

Finish with 5 minutes warm down as easy walking, giving a total session time of 60 minutes

Tue Walk 30 minutes: Easy recovery pace.

Wed Time trial. Firstly, warm up walk for 10 minutes. Jog at a sustainable pace around your time trial course, recording the time at finish. This is a test of your ability to judge your pace. You want to be pleasantly weary at the finish, having judged your pace to jog at a good clip.

Warm-down easy pace for 5 minutes.

How’d you compare to last week’s T.T? Remember to record your times. Your jogging time should be faster than your walking time.

Thurs 35 minutes in total, with accelerations:

10 minutes walk to warm up.

5 minutes of “accelerations”: Start with a walk pace, increasing the pace, a faster gear every minute, until at the start of minute 3 you are jogging. Keep increasing the jog pace slowly until you are jogging at a good old clip at the finish of 5 minutes.

Do a total of 4 accelerations

Warm down walk for 5 minutes.

Fri Day off.


Once we get jogging more you will probably find slight tightening of your calf muscles, the soleus and gastrocnemius. Repetitive actions like running tend to gradually shorten muscles, so a moderate stretch is a good idea. Do stretches after you are warmed up, or at the end of your session whilst you are still warm.


Don’t go into pain zone, just till you feel a healthy stretch. Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds.


Gastrocnemius:

Find a sturdy object like a wall or tree. (This stretch looks like you are pushing this object over, and you’ll probably get some “smart” comments). Start by facing the sturdy object, and leaning against it, supporting yourself against it with your hands. Bit by bit, move your feet backwards, keeping your heels in contact with the ground, and knees straight. Keep your body in a straight line, hips forward and head/neck up and in line with your spine. You should feel that all of your weight is driving nice and straight down your spine and through your hips and legs to your heel. Keep your toes pointing straight forward, in line with your knees. For more of a stretch move your feet further back, and push harder down through your heels, keeping your heels on the ground. Alternatively, you can stretch one leg at a time for more of a stretch.


Soleus:

Find a door edge. You could also use a curb with a handy post. You will need shoes on.

Stand very close to the post/wall with your right foot toes up the wall or skirting board, approx 10 cm, so that the front of your foot is bent upward. Your heel is in flat contact with the floor, but your toes are in extreme dorsiflexion. Keep your toes pointing forward, in line with your knees. (Your left foot is supporting your weight a little behind the other foot). Next relax your right leg and allow your right knee to bend forward, very relaxed, toward the door post. As you sink into this position, you will feel a stretch deep in your calves, (the soleus muscle).

Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, swap legs and then repeat.


Week 11 Check-up on goal

Introduce hamstring stretch.

My jogging is coming on very well, clocking up a 32 minute jog for my Time Trial. I still have challenges though as I have a lot of sharp pain in dorsiflexion (when I run uphill). I’ve had another CT scan yesterday to search for clues, but in the meantime I use the pain as a warning to only walk up hills for now.


Now is a good time to do a progress analysis. I’ve asked questions like:


Am I on track for my goals? Do I need to adjust my goals? Are my goals realistic, or perhaps too easy now? It’s important to realise that it’s perfectly OK to change goals. The great thing is that even if the goal changes, we’ve made progress compared to where we were earlier. We’ve experimented, learned more about our capabilities and potential. Best of all, we have had some direction and purpose which feels positive, eh!